Delusional Circuitry

Hilary Strang

HTML by Robert Dixon




"Something is produced: the effects of a machine, not mere metaphors"
(Anti-Oedipus, 2)

In the 1950's at the Sonya Shankman Orthogenic School in Chicago, Illinois, Bruno Bettelheim treated an autistic child who came to be known as Joey the mechanical boy.

A human body that operates like a machine, and a machine that performs human functions--each of these is uncanny, the more so if the body we observe is a child's...And Joey was a child devoid of all we see as essentially human and childish, as if he did not move his arms and legs but had extensors that were shifted by gears. Nor was his the behavior of a decorticated, vegetating animal; on the contrary. Behind everything he did one felt tension and purpose but also a complexity beyond his grasp. Only these did not come across to us as human tensions and complexities. They were more like the tension we sense in a highly charged wire, or a steel cable stretched to the breaking point.

In most ways Joey was typically autistic. But while he showed all the behavior that we ascribe to that disturbance, even a complete catalogue of his symptoms would fall short of the true picture...I would have to compare him simultaneously with a most inept infant and a complex machine. (Bettelheim, 234-235)

Examine carefully the physical economy of man: What do you find? The jaws are armed with teeth, which are no more than pincers. This stomach is nothing but a retort, or heat chamber; the veins, arteries and indeed the entire vascular system are simply hydraulic tubes; the heart, a pump; the viscera, nothing but filters and sieves...(from Praxis medica, Baglivi, 1696, in Canguilhem, 47)

As Canguilhem argues, "the theory of the animal-machine is inseparable from 'I think therefore I am'" (Canguilhem, 52), inseparable from the project of Enlightenment rationality. As Bettelheim argues, "the typical modern delusion is of being run by an influencing machine...Just as the angels and saints of a deeply religious age help us to fathom what were man's greatest hopes at that time, and the devils what he trembled at most, so man's delusions in a machine world seem to be tokens of both our hopes and our fears of what machines may do for us, or to us" (Bettelheim, 234). The animal-machine, human-machine is "uncanny" and poses a threat to "cataloguing", to the rational project. Why do the logic of heart as pump and the threat of legs as extensors exist simultaneously? Note that this is not a matter of examining some brave new world, but (as both Canguilhem and Bettelheim point out) a question thoroughly imbricated in European-American modernity.

Joey the mechanical boy is legible as a site in which a particular rational humanist project of representation is temporarily broken down, and construction of the productive body is momentarily frustrated. Bettelheim describes Joey's story as "a cautionary tale" (Bettelheim, 234), explicitly setting this narrative apart from the 'case history'. A "complete catalogue of [Joey's] symptoms", the relied on format for documenting therapy, "would fall short of the true picture", and Bettelheim notes that his ability to represent this case fell apart in other ways as well: "Maybe a measure of our awe, and our rejection of the uncanny, shows up in our failure to take pictures of the most elaborate devices Joey created for running his body and mind. Only after this phase was in decline did we have sense enough to photograph them. Unfortunately they show the machinery that ran him at night in the very reduced form it had taken after a year and a half at the School" (Bettelheim, 236). The confusion between human and machine that seems to block representation, also threatens the ability of capitalism to construct subjects as productive bodies, a process which Deleule says relies on a maintained hierarchy of functioning, on "the juridicial separation between the body/machine" (Deleule, 207).

At the same time it is possible to read Joey the mechanical boy as a matter of (a particular) course, as 'exactly what you would expect' from late industrial capitalism. Not only because, as Canguilhem and Deleule argue, the machinic and the human are historically inseparable, because "machines can be considered as organs of the human species" (Canguilhem, 55), but because 'what else' could a flow of signs that includes Taylorism, Popular Mechanics, Turing machines, the space program, World War Two, the atom bomb, stream-lined kitchens, produce but a boy who is a machine? "Whenever he spotted a real fan or motor, not even his imaginary 'propellers' could divert his attention. He could not be kept away from them, plugged and unplugged them, carefully examined the slowing down or quickening movement of the blades. He imitated with almost mechanical precision the variations in sound that accompanied various speeds. His grasp of the mechanics involved would have been remarkable in a much older child. He used such precise terms as 'blade of a propeller', 'fan belt'..." (Bettelheim, 243)

Statement of project

I find, however, that I am not interested in mediating an argument between Joey-as-resistant and Joey-as-symptomatic. I began this project with the thought of arguing that the so-called delusion of the influencing machine is understandable not through the oedipal family drama, but through a set of historical influences, through the inextricable relation between the capitalist state and the war machine. This is an easy argument to make in Joey's case, in part because although Bettelheim locates the source of Joey's trauma in the family, he also finds a circuit between autism and war, between his experience in a German concentration camp and the trauma he sees in the children he treats (Bettelheim, 8). I am not interested so much in producing a critique of Bettleheim's practice, as in refocusing his narrative on presences such as capitalism and the war machine. I do not think that I am adding anything to Joey's case history that is not already there, but I am interested in making certain presences explicit, in expanding, historicizing and fragmenting this narrative of a cure. I am hoping that this project can be a kind of transmission device, allowing for sign flows that might usually be considered 'outside' of psychoanalysis without sealing off possibilities for therapy.

There is no moment when we are not encircled by power formations. In our societies people must not gesticulate overmuch; we must each stay in our proper place, sign on the dotted line, recognize the signals we are given--and any failure may land us up in prison or hospital. Rather than looking upon the schizophrenic as someone who is paralyzed inside his own body and needs to be looked after, it might be better to try and see (rather than interpret) how he functions in the social situation he has to contend with, and what are the transversal, diagrammatic problems he is facing us with. It is not a matter of aping schizophrenics...but of discovering how a mad person, a child, a homosexual, a prostitute, etc. shifts the components of desire about in the social arena while we, the 'normal', take care to let well alone. (Guattari, 172, italics added.)

This project is structured as a series of repetitive and interrelated circuits, which feed into and out of each other. Although I am designating these circuits as separate, it will be clear that they cannot be maintained as such. The energy of the war machine and the capitalist state feeds into and out of each one, as does the narrative of Joey's autism and recovery. Each circuit is also marked with one of Joey's drawings, which help to define and theorize the circulating terms and objects.

circuitry of the body/machine

The body/machine, the mechanical boy, the organic machine, the machine in the family that appears in Joey's case history is not Haraway's cyborg, but is something closer to an assembly line that mass produces automobiles or a robotic 'tortoise' described by de Latil in 1957, which seeks out its own power sources but also suffers from "anxiety" attacks. Questions of 'belief' and 'metaphor' are raised here: Do you believe that the boy who requires electrical current in order to eat is a machine? Do the diagnostic procedures of psychiatry that compartmentalize the body constitute a metaphoric treatment of the body 'as a' machine?

Laying down an imaginary wire [Joey] connected himself with his source of electrical energy. The he strung the wire from an imaginary outlet to the dining room table to insulate himself, and then plugged himself in...These imaginary electrical connections he had to establish before he could eat, because only the current ran his ingestive apparatus. He performed the ritual with such skill that one had to look twice to be sure there was neither wire nor outlet nor plug...those who watched him seemed to suspend their own existence and become observers of another reality. (Bettelheim, 235)

Every aspect and every movement of the machine is calculated; and the working of the machine confirms how each calculation holds up to certain norms...whereas the living body functions according to experience...Hence the overwhelming but often misunderstood fact that life permits monstrosities. There are no monstrous machines. There is no mechanical pathology...whereas monsters are still living things, there is no way to distinguish between the normal and the pathological in physics and mechanics. Only among living beings is there a distinction between the normal and the pathological. (Canguilhem, 58)

The evolution, by distortion, of the human apparatus into a machine, is a projection that corresponds to the development of the pathological process that converts the ego into a diffuse sexual being--or, expressed in the language of the genital period, into a genital, a machine independent of the aims of the ego and subordinated to a foreign will. (Tausk, 564)

In the course of the various battles, especially since the seventeenth century, awareness had grown of the increasing problem of military infirmity. A flourishing industry developed: orthopedics. It was discovered that the damage caused by the war machines to the mechanics of the surviving bodies could be compensated for by other machines--prostheses. (Virilio, 61)

"...to Joey's machine [the school staff] carefully restored parts that had fallen because 'Joey has to have his carburetor in order to breathe'. It was a car machine that powered him, and a 'carburetor' that enabled him to breathe. In the same way they would carefully preserve for him the exhaust pipes through which he exhaled or the motors that ran his digestion" (Bettelheim, 236). Those who encountered Joey found themselves taking seriously his status as a machine, and "...all those who tried to befriend him, including his parents, ended up by providing this mechanical boy with the tubes and motors he seemed to need for his very existence and to crave more than human affection...often the fascination was morbid, instead of the vital one so needed to reach him" (Bettelheim, 238).

Modern psychology, at its high point, represented the utlimate attemp at treating life, scientifically, as a machine--that is, a working part of the productive body. (Deleule, 219)

With Frederick Taylor and the first technicians to make scientific studies of work-task movements, the human body was measured as if it functioned like a machine. If we see their aim as the elimination of all unnecessary movement and their view of output as being expressed only in terms of a certain number of mathematically determined factors, then rationalization was, for all intents and purposes, a mechanization of the body...(Canguilhem, 63)

circuitry of the body/machine

Each [of Joey's parents] had entered marriage on the rebound, in the wake of a frustrated love affair. In the mother's case, she had loved a man who had only recently died in air combat (World War Two)...What the young couple wanted most out of marriage was forgetting their private, unshared hurt. They were not able as yet to give each other true comfort, so they tried to distract themselves from past unhappiness and from the hardships of a wartime existence by a hectic social life...[Later, after Joey's birth] the father was transferred to another [army] post and the mother moved in with another army wife. Anxieties and tensions continued to mount, partly due to the parents' relations to each other, and partly because of the war. (Bettelheim, 239-240)

--At first [mathematics and physics, technological innovation and the military machine] appear to be quite disparate fields which only coincide in present day development of the economic and national military complex--But in fact, we have to start from the premise that, from the very first, they merge into one another...(Guattari, 121)

The schizophrenic influencing machine is a machine of mystical nature. The patients are able to give only vague hints of its construction. It consists of boxes, cranks, levers, wheels, buttons, wires, batteries and the like. Patients endeavor to discover the construction of the apparatus by means of their own technical knowledge, and it appears that with the progressive popularization of the sciences, all the forces known to technology are utilized to explain the functioning of the apparatus. (Tausk, 544)

How much [Joey] feared annihilation as he eliminated was further suggested by his screaming 'Explosion!' at the moment when feces left his body. Its nearly cosmic effects were inferred from statements like: 'I'm plugging in my tube. I'm going to make a bowel movement; I'm going to light up the lights outside.' (Bettelheim, 266)

...only the blind machine can be ideal...a machine blind from birth. Having been born into a different but complete world in which every problem must be resolved by touch, it would use its robotic claws or grips to carry out each productive task with mechanical precision, over and over again. The question of adaptation would never come up...that is the telos of the living machine. (Deleule, 216)

circuitry of autism

Donna Williams writes of the importance of being able to label herself autistic and her simultaneous sense of the inadequacy, indeed ridiculousness, of the definitions available. Deleuze and Guattari do not read the autistic as 'outside' of 'normal' development (a reading they share with Williams), but see the attachment of the autistic to animals or objects as a becoming, as part of a line of flight. The question in this circuit is then one of apparatuses of capture. What work do the definitions of autism do? Bettelheim comes to recognize autism through his own experience of a German concentration camp: there is a kind of transference going on here between Joey and Bettelheim, but it is a transference that may run two ways. And the power that runs this circuit of transference is trauma, violence, the relation between a body and a particular machine, a body that transforms and is transformed by a particular machine.

Modern psychology, at its high point, represented the ultimate attempt at treating life, scientifically, as a machine--that is, a working part of the productive body. (Deleule, 219)

Discussions of autistic children in the literature take as their point of departure comparisons with normal, or abnormal, human beings. But to do justice to Joey as he was when he came to us...I would have to compare him simultaneously with a most inept infant and a complex machine. Often it took a conscious act of will to make ourselves perceive him as a child...His was not a reduced human existence, not an animal-like one. He was 'real' all right, but his reality was that of machines. (Bettelheim, 234-235)

Of course, it is not a question of a real production, as if the child 'really' became an animal; nor is it a question of a resemblance, as if the child imitated animals that really raised it; nor is it a question of a symbolic metaphor, as if the autistic child that was abandoned or lost merely became the 'analog' of an animal...For their own part, [Scherer and Hocquenghem] appeal to an objective zone of indetermination or uncertainty, 'something shared or indiscernible', a proximity 'that makes it impossible to say where the boundary between the human and the animal lies', not only in the case of autistic children, but for all children; it is as though, independent of the evolution carrying them toward adulthood, there were room in the child for other becomings...that are not regressions but creative involutions bearing witness to 'an inhumanity immediately experienced in the body as such,' unnatural nuptials 'outside the programmed body'. (Deleuze and Guattari, 273, emphases added)

Later on [in Joey's residence at the Orthogenic School, Joey] began to warn us about impending explosions so that we could act to relieve his anger or distress...the he might say 'That light bulb is going to have a temper tantrum.' This was not simply a reversal between people and things to avoid punishment for his own behavior. It was the logical consequence of his being dead, and of tubes and machines having the full life that had died within him. Having feelings, these tubes also suffered. They bled when they were hurt, and sometimes got sick. The reversal between him and objects was persistent. This remained true for Joey even at a much later time when he began to think that maybe some other persons had feelings. As he then put it: 'There are live people and then there are people who need tubes.' (Bettelheim, 253)

circuitry of autism

While at first Joey named foods correctly, calling them 'butter', 'sugar'. 'water' and so forth, he later gave this up. Instead he subsumed particular foods into new groupings but in doing so deprived them of their nutritive quality. He then called sugar 'sand', butter 'grease', water 'liquid' and so on...It is...clear that in his transposing of names, as much as in the giving up of pronouns, the autistic child creates a language to fit his emotional experience of the world...Far from not knowing how to use language correctly, there is a spontaneous decision to create a language that will match how he experiences things--and things only, not people. (Bettelheim, 241)

"How is one to keep the characteristics [of autism] in mind? To make it easy for the reader we have developed a mnemonic device. Each of the first letters of AUTISTIC PEOPLE stands for a generally agreed upon characteristic of the condition" (Webster, 5). Webster goes on to list the symptoms that correspond to this mnemonic device: Affect isolation; Unrelatedness to others; Twiddling behavior; Inconsistent developmental continuity; Self-destructive behavior; Temper tantrums--anxiety; I/you apparent confusion; Concrete thinking; Perceptual inconsistencies; Echolalia--immediate and delayed; Orderliness (psychological rigidity); Physical incoordination; Language lacks; Excessive activity (Webster, 6-10).

There is always the danger that as [autistic children] loosen up, and give up their autistic armor, their despair too will be freed because all the preventions that contained it are weakened. They may then commit suicide, usually in ways that are looked upon as 'accidents' but that always indicate their newly won freedom. Such children may suddenly fall out of a window, drown in a swimming pool, jump into one that is empty of water, and so forth...for a short time each child we were able to wrest away from his autistic isolation went through a suicidal phase. In Joey's case, running out into the street was one of several incidents that were typical of him during this period. (Bettelheim, 286)

"In the German concentration camps I witnessed with utter disbelief the nonreacting of certain prisoners to their most cruel experience. I did not know and would not have believed that I would observe similar behavior in the most benign of therapeutic environments...Like others who have worked with autistic children, we were again and again confronted with a parallel blotting out of all pain" (Bettelheim, 57). Bettelheim goes on to tell of an autistic girl, obviously sick--high fever, high white blood cell count--who the staff suspected had appendicitis. When examined however, she showed no pain whatsoever in the region of her appendix. The girl grew sicker, and "as an emergency measure, an exploratory operation was performed, revealing a ruptured appendix, at least two days old...In a strange way [autistic children] are just as alienated from the body and its normal signals as they are from the external world...I believe what we have here is a concentration on their defensive system to the exclusion of all other stimuli, whether coming from inside or out. Or else all sensations are immediately worked into their defensive system and are therefore not perceived as originating, for example...in an infected appendix" (Bettelheim, 58-59).

...only the blind machine can be ideal...a machine blind from birth. Having been born into a different but complete world in which every problem must be resolved by touch, it would use its robotic claws or grips to carry out each productive task with mechanical precision, over and over again. The question of adaptation would never come up... (Deleule, 216, emphasis added)

Would an intelligent machine be a 'smart bomb', a p.c., a robot maid, Joey surviving the traumas of his childhood? It seems that machines create anxiety in us, and that we also build anxiety into them. The monkey babies Harlow studied clung to cloth and wire 'surrogate mothers' when a 'fear inducing' apparatus, a wind-up bear beating a drum was introduced into their cage. How is the development of subjectivity mapped? What are the terms of the construction of a machine that can learn? How is this project defined? What unwanted circulates through these projects?

In retrospect it is easy to see what was so upsetting to us who tried to come close to [Joey]. All of us have feelings about how powerful our machines have become: in this nuclear age we have reason to fear that our own creations may destroy us. In Joey it was so blatant that this had already happened...he was living proof that our fears were not groundless. This is why, however strange his talk, his behavior, and later his drawings, they cannot compare in shock quality with what we experienced in his presence...It is why his delusions had such an impact which we, accustomed to living with autistic children, had experienced with no other child. I cannot recreate it in writing. The best I can do is to say that watching him interfered to a serious degree with our ability to experience and relate to him as human beings. (Bettelheim, 238, emphasis added.)

The history of technology is dated by the existence at each stage of a particular type of machine; the history of the sciences is now reaching a point, in all its branches, where every scientific theory can be taken as a machine rather than a structure, which relates it to the order of ideology. Every machine is the negation, the destroyer by incorporation (almost to the point of excretion), of the machine it replaces. And it is potentially in a similar relationship to the machine that will take its place.

Yesterday's machine, today's and tomorrow's, are not related in their structural determinations: only by a process of historical analysis, by reference to a signifying chain extrinsic to the machine, by what we might call historical structuralism, can we gain any overall grasp of the effects of continuity, retro-action, and interlinking that it is capable of representing. (Guattari, 112)

In other words, the mechanical control of man cannot succeed unless we know man's built-in purposes, and why we want to control him. (Wiener, 209-210)

In the learning machine, it is well to distinguish what the machine can learn and what it cannot. A machine either may be built with a statistical preference for a certain sort of behavior, which nevertheless admits the possibility of other behavior; or else certain features of its behavior may be rigidly and unalterably determined. We shall call the first sort of determination preference, and the second sort of determination constraint. For example, if the rules of legal chess are not built into a chess playing machine as constraints, and if the machine is given the power to learn, it may change without notice from a chess playing machine into a machine doing a totally different task. On the other hand, a chess-playing machine may still be a learning machine as to tactics and policies. The reader may wonder why we are interested in chess-playing machines at all...(Wiener, 205-206, boldface emphases added)

--At first [mathematics and physics, technological innovation and the military machine] appear to be quite disparate fields which only coincide in present day development of the economic and national military complex--But in fact, we have to start from the premise that, from the very first, they merge into one another...(Guattari, 121)

circuitry of the intelligent machine

The tortoises of Grey Walter are machines which move about freely and have certain attributes of an independent life. (We are not speaking of the exterior attributes of life which, naively enough, are associated with the automata of old.) They 'feed' on light which they seek and transform into electric currents. This current charges an accumulator. When their stomachs are full (or, if you prefer it, when their accumulators are charged) their behavior changes...The analogy to living beings is somewhat more than superficial. The basic reason for this similarity of reaction lies in the fact that, like animals, the electronic tortoises are torn between conflicting 'emotions'. The extreme originality of these mechanisms is to be found in their balancing of different tendencies, always inclining toward the optimum condition...on one day they will come and go gaily between two 'optimal' regions and at another time they may lie about sluggishly, or else they may display 'anxiety symptoms' and move around restlessly from place to place...so they have to rush off quickly into their hutches to recharge themselves. (de Latil, 21-22)

Under no circumstances, now, could [Joey] eat unless in touch with the table. He had to sit on a piece of paper, pressed against the table, and his clothing had to be covered with napkins. Otherwise, he later told us, he was not insulated and the electric current would leave him...He could not drink except through elaborate piping systems built of straws. Liquids had to be pumped into him (or so he felt). Therefore he could not let himself suck. (Bettelheim, 244)

When Descartes looks to machines to explain how organisms work, he invokes spring operated and hydraulic automata. As a result, he owes a great intellectual debt to the ideas behind the technical creations of his own time, including clocks and watches, water mills and church organs of the early seventeenth century. We can say, then, that as long as the concept of the human and animal body is inextricably 'tied' to the machine [because it provides the machine with its power] it is not possible to offer an explanation of the body in terms of the machine. Historically, it was not possible to conceive of such an explanation until the day that human ingenuity created mechanical devices that not only imitated organic movements...but also required no human intervention to set them going. (Canguilhem, 49)

Or again, [Joey] bumped into a pipe on the jungle gym and kicked it so violently that the teacher stopped him and warned that the pipe was much harder than the foot; it would only hurt him. 'That proves it,' Joey cried. 'Machines are better than bodies. They don't break. They're much harder and stronger.' (Bettelheim, 268-269)

circuitry of the delusion of the influencing machine

In Terminator 2, the director of the mental hospital in which the heroine, Sarah Connor is being held lectures to a group of students to whom he is showing the facility. He describes Sarah Connor's 'delusion' that she has been chased by a cyborg which wants to kill her and her son. Sarah claims that unless she can save her son from this machine, the world will be taken over and destroyed by machines grown more intelligent than their creators. 'A most unusual delusion', the doctor proclaims. In fact, in 1919, Tausk thoroughly described the 'delusion of the influencing machine', a schizophrenic pattern recognized early in the history of psychoanalysis. Sarah Connor is of course not delusional: T2 is invested in revealing psychoanalysis and the psychiatric industry as ignorant, and in turn reveals its own ignorance of psychoanalysis. Joey can also be seen as a part of the history of a specifically modern delusion; simply ignoring this history will not eliminate the influence of psychoanalysis in any reading we can perform of a subject, whether a cyborg from the future or a machine in the family. The question here is perhaps one of interpretation vs. seeing, of the literalness of the machine that influences.

[The influencing machine] produces, as well as removes, thoughts and feelings by means of rays or mysterious forces, which the patient's knowledge of physics is inadequate to explain...The machine serves to persecute the patient and is operated by enemies. (Tausk, 544)

As I went along the street where I live, I was suddenly gripped by a rhythm which took possession of me...It was as though someone was making use of my living-machine. Then another rhythm overtook and combined with the first, and certain strange transverse relations were set up between these two principles...Notice that everything I have said, or tried to say, happened in relation to what we call the External World, what we call Our Body, and what we call Our Mind...(Valery, in Dagognet, 531)

[Joey, at age one and a half,] was completely preoccupied with machinery, most of all an electric fan that his parents gave him at age one. This he could take apart and put together again with surprising deftness. His interest was explained by the fact that he had often been taken to the airport when his father was coming from or going on assignments and that these trips had a good deal of meaning for him. His interest in electric fans had first been aroused at the airport. (Bettelheim, 240)

In cases where the patient believes he understands the construction of the [influencing] apparatus well, it is obvious that this feeling is, at best, analogous to that of a dreamer who has a feeling of understanding but not the understanding itself. This characteristic may be discovered whenever an accurate description of the apparatus is demanded of the patient. Also, the apparatus is, as far as I know, always a machine--a very complicated one. (Tausk, 549)

...the machine's lack of genitalia stands for the pregenital, in a certain sense, nongenital stage. The construction of the influencing apparatus in the form of a machine, therefore, represents a projection of the entire body, now wholly a genital...The evolution, by distortion, of the human apparatus into a machine, is a projection that corresponds to the development of the pathological process that converts the ego into a diffuse sexual being--or, expressed in the language of the genital period, into a genital, a machine independent of the aims of the ego and subordinated to a foreign will. It is no longer subordinated to the will of the ego, but dominates it. Here, too, one is reminded of the astonishment of boys when they become aware for the first time of erection. The fact, moreover, that the erection is shortly conceived as an exceptional and mysterious feat supports the assumption that erection is felt to be a thing independent of the ego, a part of the outer world not completely mastered. (Tausk, 564)

Did the father's final departure for overseas duty put an end to the only situation that offered Joey at least the tangible involvement with reality he knew at the airport? Or had each successive arrival and departure been a trauma reinforcing the one before? Or perhaps the airplane propellers that initiated flight came to stand for an end to tension and human rejection...All these are possible clues for explaining Joeyšs fascination with fans and electrical energy (which starts up propellers)...Only by comparison with the 'unreality' of his parents could machines become more important than people...Joey attached himself to machines because they offered the more significant experience. Though dangerous, they were at least tangible. More important for his efforts to gain autonomy, they were predictable...(Bettelheim, 247)

circuitry of the delusion of the influencing machine

The peculiar construction of the machine substantiates to a great extent, especially with regard to the significance of the machine as a projected symbol of the genitalia. I may add that the apparatus represents not only the patient's genitalia but, obviously, her whole person. It represents the projection of the patient's body onto the outer world. (Tausk, 551)

On a playground near the school for example, is a very low slide that Joey liked to use. Eventually his weird grin and trembling lips showed that this was another of his dangerous activities, and we declared it out of bounds. As usual, he long and frantically objected until he was convinced that our decision was final. Only then did he tell us that it was not gravity at all that moved his body down the slide. At the top of the slide he had connected his tube to it with powerful electronics: this, plus electricity, pulled him down. Unfortunately, as he slid off the end of the ride the circuit was broken and this 'exploded' him. (Bettelheim, 257)

The structural order of the group, of consciousness, of communication, is thus surrounded on all sides by these systems of machines which it will never be able to control, either by grasping the objets petit 'a' as the unconscious desire machine, or the phenomena of breaking apart related to other types of machines. The essence of the machine...is that one cannot ultimately distinguish the unconscious subject of desire from the order of the machine itself...(Guattari, 117)

Repair work: What is the aim of therapy, to get you on your feet and back to work? But creating the productive body may cause the breakdown in the first place. Is the question, what are you producing or for whom are you producing? or might the question be what would you be if your body were not productive? The ability of capitalism to construct subjects as productive bodies is maintained by a hierarchy of functioning, by "the juridicial separation between the body/machine" (Deleule, 207).

While in France the handicapped are exempt from military service, this is not the case in Germany: in 1914, the German army had few or no exemptions for it had decided to make physical handicaps functional by using each man according to his specific disability: the deaf will serve in heavy artillery, hunchbacks in the automobile corps, etc. Paradoxically, the dictatorship of the movement exerted on the masses by the military powers led to the promotion of unable bodies...the human body huddling in the 'steel alcove' [of the car or the tank] is...the doubly unable body of the proletarian soldier. Deprived, as he has always been, of will, he now requires physical assistance from a vehicular prosthesis in order to accomplish his historical mission, Assault, (Virilio, 61-62)

...Marx defined manufacturing as 'a vast automated system composed of numerous mechanical and intellectual devices that work together, non-stop, in order to produce a given object, with each unit being subordinated to a driving motor that moves of its own accord'. This is a compact image of how the advanced productive body functions. (Deleule, 224)

A capitalist...controls a specific territory, a specific factory, in a particular country, and in each one he depends on a certain number of those transformers of signification--concrete machines. In each of these situations, the dominant facial features--those of the mother, father, teacher, cop, judge, pop-star, boss, etc.--determine the possible survival of the other, more 'archaic' concrete machines: the being of animals, scenery, etc....Establishing these concrete authority machines is the only means whereby a capitalistic system can tolerate, and turn to its own advantage, the lines of escape inherent in the development of productive forces and the de-territorialization of production relations. (Guattari, 156)

On his own [Joey] let us know that now, after nine years, it was time for him to leave us, and so he did. Joey returned home and resumed life with his family. From there he completed his education in a technical high school, making good use of his persisting but now more normal interest in technical matters...[on a return visit] we were deeply impressed by the two things he selected to bring with him to show us. One of them was his high school diploma. The second thing was an electrical machine he had constructed himself...It was a very heavy thing, and he was weighed down with it just as tubes and motors had weighed him down in the past. But with this machine there was triumph and satisfaction in the way he carried it. It was a rectifier and its function was to change alternating current into direct current. And he showed us again and again how this device he had constructed himself changed the eternal back-and-forth of the alternating current into a direct continuous flow. (Bettelheim, 339)

With 'faciality', the distinctive features of the face and body are used to serve a specific mode of diagrammatism that de-territorializes whole constellations of desire machines and connects them up with production machines...(Guattari, 162)

...the machine is not a substitute for the life process, even though advances in cybernetics might have us believe otherwise. Nor was the machine ever intended to take over life's work tasks or to alleviate the problems of work overload in 'imperfect societies'. In spite of all the arguments we still hear about 'labor-saving' machines or production processes that allow for more leisure time...The fact is, machines were not built in order to free humans from servile tasks. The function of machines is...to enhance life's capacity for mastery and conquest. The machine does not in any sense replace life. (Deleule, 206)

As compared to the work done by machines, the work of human beings is nothing. This working at 'nothing', in the special sense in which people do it today...tends more and more to be merely a response to a machine...Human work today is merely a residual sub-whole of the work of the machine. This residual human activity is no more than a partial procedure that accompanies the central procedure produced by the order of the machine. The machine has now come to the heart of desire, and this residual human work represents no more than the point of the machinešs imprint on the imaginary world of the individual (cf. Lacan's function of the [object little] 'a'). (Guattari, 113)

...[Joey] treated his body and mind as things mechanical, consisting of parts that must be discarded and replaced if they did not function well. On a hot summer day he cried, 'I must drain out all my blood because it's too hot.' If he lost something, or forgot something, 'My brain isn't working right. There's a forgetfulness part in my brain. You have to cut it out because I don't remember,' and he hit his head with his fist or banged it hard against the wall. If he spilled something, 'I must break my arm; it doesn't work right,' and he would pound at the defective arm. (Bettelheim, 268)

In order for the productive body to reveal itself, the biological body must be dissected, viewed in parts. Its lost unity can only be retrieved epistemologically, while also accounting for the division of labor...Productive activity has to be extracted from the body itself, from living labor, and relocated within the parcelization of physical motion, which is most meaningful and at its most efficient when an organ is attributed a specific and unique function as a guarantee of its infallibility. Yet, it is included in a general mechanistic plan whose meaning is not entirely understood by the actor-participant and which, as it is carried out, leaves a mark on the body...(Deleule, 208)

What runs you when you are asleep? What current allows you to eat? What is that elaborate construction you built at the head of your bed, at your kitchen table, in your office?


Works Cited / Sources of Images

Bettelheim, Bruno, The Empty Fortress: Infantile Autism and the Birth of the Self. The Free Press, 1976.

Canguilhem, Georges, "Machine and Organism," trans. Mark Cohen and Randall Cherry, in Incorporations.

Dagognet, Francois, "Toward a Biopsychiatry" (1982), trans. Donald M. Leslie, in Incorporations.

Deleule, Didier, "The Living Machine: Psychology as Organology", trans. Randall Cherry, in Incorporations.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

George, F.H., Automation Cybernetics and Society. Philosophical Library Inc., 1959.

Goodman, L. Landon, Man and Automation. Penguin Books, 1957.

Guattari, Felix, Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics, trans. Rosemary Sheed. Penguin Books, 1984.

de Latil, Pierre, Thinking By Machine. The Riverside Press, 1957.

Steffan, John J. and Paul Karoly, eds., Autism and Severe Psychopathology. D.C. Heath and Co., 1982.

Steinbruch, Karl, Automat und Mensch. Springer-Verlag, 1961.

Taffel, Alexander, Visualized Physics. Oxford Book Company, 1959.

Tausk, Victor, "The Influencing Machine" (1919), trans. Dorian Feigenbaum, in Incorporations.

Webster, Christopher D., "The Characteristics of Autism", in Autism: New Directions in Research and Education, C.D. Webster et al eds. Pergamon Press Inc., 1980.

Wiener, Norbert, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1950.

Williams, Donna, Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic. Times Books, 1992.


Hilary Strang is a doctoral student in Literary and Cultural Theory at Carnegie Mellon.